Oktoberfest

It’s Oktoberfest time! As you probably know, Oktoberfest is the world-famous festival celebrated around the world.

Oktoberfest showcases the best in German culture, agriculture, and food [and also, lots and lots of beer].

For those who love the extra credit points you get for knowing the background story, Oktoberfest revelry dates back to 1810, when King Ludwig I of Bavaria married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen. So great was his happiness that he threw a huge party for all his subjects, right outside the city gates, to honor his bride.

Two hundred years later, Oktoberfest celebrations are held all over the world. The oldest and biggest Oktoberfest is in Munich [“the largest Volksfest in the world”], and lasts for a whopping 16 – 18 days. That’s a lot of bratwurst and beer.

I saw the official 2010 Munich figures, which claim that they served 7.1 million liters of beer that year, and served 119,000 pairs of sausages. That’s. A. Lot. Of. Brats. And. Beer.

Perhaps that explains the curious tradition of visitors wearing special Oktoberfest Bavarian hats (Tirolerhüte), which contain a tuft of real goat hair, and eating haxen, or pig knuckles.

Eep. That much beer and sausage can make you do craaazy things.

How crazy?

Well, the festive spirit seems to make some revelers lose track of their belongings: a total of 4,500 items were handed in to the lost-and-found office at the Munich Oktoberfest site, including two wedding rings, a hearing aid and two French horns. (French horn is one of the most difficult instruments to play well. Do you suppose loved ones of these french horn owners “lost” the horns on purpose?) Two pairs of Lederhosen were also turned in. [Insert your own Lederhosen joke here. C’mon.]

Unlike in previous years, however, the lost-and-found list did not include false teeth. (Well, that’s cheery.)

The number of Bierleichen, or “beer corpses” — revelers who have “drunk themselves into a state of unconsciousness” — jumped by almost 20 percent in 2012 to 445, most of them aged 30 or under, according to the Red Cross.

“Happily, there were no attempted killings during the first half of the festival, and no extremely serious injuries,” the Munich police said in a statement.

We are too old and too low-key for shenanigans on the Munich scale [16 days! Seven million beers! Bierleichen und Lederhosen-less French horn players!].

We’ll be limiting our Oktoberfest revelry to probably one evening, with our dirndls and dentures intact, thankyouverymuch.

Here are our recommendations for a more tame, state-side Oktoberfest menu:

  • Sauerbraten. This marinated German pot roast is typically served with red cabbage and a curious (but delicious) ginger-snap gravy.
  • Beer-Simmered Grilled Sausages. If this weekend’s weather is pleasant, we may grill out our Oktoberfest supper.
  • Cheddar-Beer Soup. Not strictly German, but anything cooked with beer can have a german “twist” – use a dark beer, and maybe a bit of Caraway seed.
  • Mulled Cider. The perfect drink for a cold rainy night. Use our exclusive Mulling Spice Blend. Substitute red wine for apple cider to *really* warm your insides and bring a glow to your cheek.
  • Triple-Ginger Cookies. Ground Ginger, Crystallized Ginger, and fresh ginger combine for a full-flavored dessert.

Photo credit: “Oktoberfest Dirndl” on Flickr, and “Tired Oktoberfest” on der Spiegel.

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